The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
10 Cloverfield Lane (Paramount Pictures)
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Written by Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken and Damien Chazelle
10 Cloverfield Lane is a good movie about one thing and an even better movie if it were about something else. And that’s it. That’s the movie; keeping the viewer unsure what the movie is about; one thing or the another. And that’s my review as well. Because to explain why I DID NOT like a film that I thoroughly enjoyed all the way through up until the ending. And then, get this, because this is important (and where it gets confusing) I ALSO ENJOYED THE ENDING. But I did not like the whole. In order to explain that, I would have to spoil the movie… especially the ending. So this is a spoiled review. And honestly, if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read the rest of this review.
But now you’re curious aren’t you? You can’t help yourself. Well, you’ve been warned.
Let’s get right to it. I want to see the OTHER movie. They end a good movie by letting us know that a better movie was going on outside the house. Setting up a sequel? Not really. More accurately, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a prequel. It’s an origin story. The birth of this bad-ass heroine. I want to see more from her. She rocks. But then the movie ends just when she finds her swing. Let me explain.
The answer to the question of whether 10 Cloverfield Lane is one thing or the other is that it’s both. A cop-out, maybe. But that’s the only solution that would be allowed. You can’t play the fence this much without both things being true. The guy who saves our hero is a bat-shit crazy kidnapper and a pathological liar but he is ALSO not lying about how he just saved her life from an alien invasion. He’s just weird. Understand that the movie is all about us not knowing this, that the drama is built around not knowing what the fuck’s going on outside the house.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a pretty good psychological thriller. It’s like Room if Room were the movie we wanted Room to be but were pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t. John Goodman “kidnaps” a young woman and holds her in his fallout shelter tricked-out doomsday bunker. Or does he? I’ve already told you the answer. He saves her from certain death at the hands of vicious aliens. But she thinks he’s a crazy, pedophile, rapist, racist violent asshole… and she’s right. SURPRISE! It’s both those things.
A young woman, played brilliantly by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, gets kidnapped and chained to a wall by a crazy guy, but the guy is actually saving her from the apocalypse and it’s him that doesn’t trust her. That’s the movie. No need to watch it. I already told you the twist. SPOILER ALERT. (In case you missed the last dozen or so). It’s good. It’s creepy. John Goodman is awesome and awful. There’s some other stuff that happens. Whatever. Let’s get to the good part. She escapes him, gets outside the house and discovers there actually HAS been an alien invasion. Then… then… THEN… she starts kicking ass. There are like five minutes left in the movie and she turns into an alien ass-kicking mofo. And the fucking movie ends after that.
To add insult to injury, the coolest thing in the movie happens right before the credits. She hears a broadcast from the remaining humans, that they’re looking for people with combat experience. And my girl just blew up a mothership, so… yeah my girl got combat experience. And then the movie ends. And then you want to see THAT movie, the movie that was happening outside of the bunker. And you’re disappointed that instead of that you got this movie; a good movie, but not the kick-ass alien invasion movie.
So in the end, 10 Cloverfield Lane was good. A little bit of a cop-out in the end, yet still entertaining. But in the end, I realized I had missed all the best stuff. And in the end, I wanted to see the other movie. I kind of feel like had there been no mystery, had we known about the invasion from the beginning, in the end, it could have been a more interesting movie. The same psychological thriller stuff but with stories seeping in from the outside world.
I felt cheated.